Making the Cosmos More Inclusive

Jumping on the Civilizational Suicide Express, NASA has announced that it will cease using nicknames for planets and other cosmic objects that might be considered “offensive.” The prime examples of “offensive” names offered by the space agency: “Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy.” Yes, really.

The first example has gone by that nickname due to a feature well-represented in a spectacular NASA photo of the dying star, in which its outer layers of energy, as they blow off, make the nebula look uncannily like a traditional picture of a person wearing a parka’s fur-trimmed hood — in other words, like an image right out of Nanook of the North. The second, “a pair of spiral galaxies,” is nicknamed after the world-famous Siamese Twins (which I learned about in the Guinness Book of World Records I received in my Christmas stocking as a child), a real medical case from a real geographical region, which became the standard colloquial name for conjoined twins because the two famous Siamese (Thai) brothers toured the world and became international celebrities.

Now, however, the good comrades at NASA have determined that these perfectly innocuous, inoffensive nicknames — aptly chosen common cultural reference points in the English-speaking world and beyond — fall within the ever-widening circle of unspeakable expressions that might bother someone who is not a member of the systemically oppressive, historically privileged class, i.e., white heterosexual males.

“These nicknames and terms may have historical or culture connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and NASA is strongly committed to addressing them,” Stephen T. Shih, Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity, said in the news release. “Science depends on diverse contributions, and benefits everyone, so this means we must make it inclusive.”

I find it “objectionable and unwelcoming” that NASA, a space exploration agency, has an Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity. And could someone please explain to me in non-Marxist terminology which “historical or cultural connotations” of the terms “Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy” are so offensive and non-inclusive?

Both terms, “Eskimo” and “Siamese,” have completely non-pejorative, regionally and linguistically organic sources. And again, the expression “Siamese twins” has become the popular term for conjoined twins for the simple and inoffensive reason that most people had never seen nor heard of this rare medical phenomenon until two conjoined Siamese-born brothers in the early 1800s overcame the “freak” status of their physical hardship to become wealthy and famous — eventually as American citizens, and slaveholding landowners — in the process normalizing their condition in the global consciousness, and thereby becoming personally identified with it.

Such is the irrational and self-destructive nature of today’s universal shame and apology “culture,” however, that even the thought that someone might be sensitive enough to find a word offensive, regardless of whether the sensitivity or offense in question makes any sense, is sufficient grounds for a self-flagellating mea culpa, a public confession of past sins, and a promise to grovel at the feet of the progressive totalitarian thought police with complete and permanent self-condemnation henceforth — all as a purifying precondition for submitting to one’s well-deserved extermination with a clean conscience.

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